Linden Endowment for the Arts to officially close

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Eidola, 2019

The Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) is to officially close on August 31st, 2019. The announcement came via a notice came via a note card circulated via the Linden Endowment for the Arts Info group, and follows on from a contraction of the scale of the LEA’s operations in Second Life and an announcement made in November 2018 stating the organisation would be going through a restructuring.

The Committee of the Linden Endowment for the Arts regrets to inform residents of Second Life that the LEA regions will be closing at the end of August 2019…

The Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) was established to help create a centre of arts activity in Second Life. It was founded in 2010 and launched its first events in 2011. For the last eight years, it has been a collaborative venture between Linden Lab and the arts community. Guided initially by a board of renowned Second Life artists and more latterly also bringing in people with a strong interest in promoting the Arts in Second Life, the LEA has been committed to providing access to engaging experiences in the arts for the Second Life community. Over the last eight years, through its exhibitions, programs, and events, the LEA has fostered awareness of artists’ contributions to our virtual world and encouraged others to get involved and be inspired.

– from the announcement of the LEA’s forthcoming closure

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Exodus: A Trip for Life, 2017

Sponsored by Linden Lab, and with 29 regions at its disposal, the LEA was initiated under Mark Kingdon’s tenure as CEO at Linden Lab to function as something of a “arts council” in Second Life, run directly by a committee of residents. The core ideals behind the LEA – as expressed on the official website were to:

  • Provide a starting point for artists in Second Life, and for those interested in art to make connections and display their work.
  • Encourage and cultivate art and artists within Second Life.
  • Foster community, creativity, and innovation among artists and all residents interested in art.
  • Provide a way for artists to promote their art.
  • Collaborate with existing art regions, galleries, exhibits, and performance spaces to help nurture their valuable participation in SL arts.
Linden Endowment for the Arts: City Inside Out, 2015

The regions were split into two primary programmes: the “core” regions (nine in all) which could be used by artists from across Second Life for relatively short-term projects, and 20 Artist in Residence (AIR) regions that could be “booked” for six months at a time. Following the announcement of the restructuring in November 2018, the 20 AIR regions were wound down as the last batch of installations for 2018 came to an end. With the formal closure at the end of August 2019, the remaining nine core regions will be shut down.

The LEA was a brave attempt to try to help promote arts within Second Life, although its very nature was bound to be somewhat controversial. Indeed, following its formation, there was a certain degree of hostility directed towards it, a lot of which was unfair.

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Speculum, 2015

As was pointed out to me after I wrote the article on the 2018 restructuring announcement, running any organisation like the LEA is going to be a thankless task; there is no remuneration for time given, there is always going to be hostility over actions taken and the grants awarded, and so on; it really can be a thankless task. Nevertheless, there were times when the committee really didn’t help itself, such as failing to adequately act in accordance with its own by-laws after a committee member openly griefed a privately-held arts region in 2015 (other than hiding those by-laws when challenged under them following said incident).

However, there can be no doubting then when all is said and done, the LEA did a tremendous amount of good for the artists who participated in its programmes, offering many the means to express themselves and reach audiences in a manner that might never otherwise been able to achieve.

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Astral Dream Project – Leonardo 500, 2019. One of the last LEA core region exhibitions

For example, there have been collaborative projects too numerous to mention; there have been individual installations offered for use by a wider community (take Chic Aeon’s MOSP installations for example); there have been works embracing political and social issues (such as the 2LEI installations); investigations into matter of health (which through their construction and presentation may well have offered catharsis to the artists behind them). There have been installation that have allowed the many faces of art of be examined, explored and enjoyed music, song, dance, storytelling, the visual interpretation of classic works. And there have been those that have simply offered the opportunity for us to express joy and laughter – and so much more.

As such, and while the LEA many have had its warts and at times had to face undue criticism, it has through its nine years of existence been a force for good for those arts who have been able to make use of its facilities and it has certainly helped enriched art within Second Life and allow many to appreciate work and installations they might otherwise never get to see. So, it’s not unfair to say its passing will be missed.

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